Mikaela Shiffrin, after placing third in the world championships slalom last month, vowed to find the two seconds that separated her from the gold medalist.
Shiffrin returned to the World Cup circuit for a slalom on Saturday and earned her 69th victory, overcoming a deficit of .27 to rival Petra Vlhova after the opening run.
The American had the fastest second run to prevail by .34 over the Slovakian in Jasna, Slovakia.
“That was a really big step,” Shiffrin said. “That’s the feeling. That’s the fight. … I felt it, after my run, even before Petra came down.”
Shiffrin earned her second consecutive World Cup slalom victory — the last was Jan. 12, her first slalom win since her father’s death on Feb. 2, 2020 — and moved closer to Lindsey Vonn‘s female record 82 World Cup race wins. It marked her 45th career World Cup slalom win, moving one shy of Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark‘s record for a single discipline (giant slalom).
Swiss Wendy Holdener was third, her 26th World Cup slalom podium without a victory in the discipline.
Austrian Katharina Liensberger, who won the world title last month by one second over Vlhova, was fourth.
Shiffrin moved 45 points behind Vlhova in the World Cup season slalom standings through five of eight scheduled events. A race winner gets 100 points. Second place gets 80 points. The title fight could come down to the World Cup Finals in two weeks.
In the finish area, Shiffrin told Vlhova that she knows how it feels to ski under the type of pressure that Vlhova is facing, especially in her home nation on Saturday.
“It feels like you have to protect it [the standings lead],” said Shiffrin, who won six slalom season titles before Vlhova took it last winter, passing an absent Shiffrin in the last race. “I think she’s incredibly strong mentally, so she knows how to handle this, but also when I was in that position in the past, I felt like every race is getting harder and you always have the weight on your shoulders to ski fast but also not take too much risk.
“It’s in Jasna. It’s her home, and everybody was cheering for her to win as well.”
Vlhova, who in 2020 overtook Shiffrin as the world’s top slalom skier in earning five consecutive wins in the discipline, gained on Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami in the race for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Gut-Behrami’s lead is 107 points with seven races left. The Swiss, who specializes in downhill and super-G, skipped the slalom.
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